BRADENTON, Fla. – Jung-ho Kang played the field for the first time on Monday, and today he’s increasing the workload. Pirates’ Head Athletic Trainer Todd Tomczyk said that Kang will not only play defense today, but will also hit and run for the first time. He will be restricted in the running, with no hard left turns, meaning he will be running to first base only. That said, there is one exception to the first base rule.
“When he hits a home run, he’s cleared to trot around the bases,” Tomczyk joked.
Tomczyk said that Kang is cleared to play defense at this point, with no restrictions on his movement. He obviously still has some things to build up on the offensive side.
Here are the other injury updates from big league camp, with exclusive prospect updates below.
**Elias Diaz has been dealing with right elbow discomfort. He’s still not throwing, but Diaz said he wouldn’t need surgery. This is something that Diaz has felt in the past, but not to this extent.
“He’s felt a little bit, but not enough to disable him or not being able to play,” Tomczyk said.
**Jared Hughes is still dealing with a left lat strain, and isn’t throwing yet. He is expected to start the season on the disabled list, although there has been no official word on that yet.
**Gregory Polanco was dealing with right shoulder discomfort, but is back in the lineup today, with no restrictions and no reservations, according to Tomczyk.
**Jordy Mercer is currently away from the team, dealing with conjunctivitis.
**Stephen Tarpley is currently down with an oblique strain, and will miss the start of the Bradenton season.
“[I’m] just sticking with the recovery process,” Tarpley said. “It’s going to be a day by day type of thing. Everything is feeling great. They’re really taking care of me in here.”
The current plan is for Tarpley to strengthen the injured area, and prevent a future injury during the season. There’s no timetable for his return, and the Pirates aren’t rushing this.
“I’m chomping at the bit right now,” Tarpley said at starting his season. “I’m kind of driving myself crazy, since it’s so close to breaking camp. It’s a day by day type of thing. It’s not something to rush.”
**Cole Tucker is now hitting in games, but still hasn’t been cleared to play defense. He’s making throws in practice, and he’s fielding in intrasquad games, but isn’t throwing during the games. He’s not sure when he will start that phase, although his fielding work in practice has increased.
“My ground ball routine is kind of the same as everyone else’s at this point, so that’s kind of nice, getting back to feeling normal again,” Tucker said.
**Wyatt Mathisen is recovering from his sore shoulder, and expects to throw in the next week. He said there’s no concern about shoulder surgery.
“It’s starting to feel better. It’s slowly starting to feel good. I think we’re going to throw in the next week or so, to get back into baseball stuff.”